Teaching Philosophy

Over my career as an educator and mentor, I’ve had the opportunity to refine my beliefs and develop a philosophy that is reflective of my experiences. I believe the purpose of education is to allow all people, regardless of identity and/or circumstance to have access to knowledge. My philosophy is centred around constructivism and learning development theories of andragogy, experiential learning, project-based learning, and self-directed learning.

Constructivism

Constructivism forms the basis for my teaching philosophy. I encourage students to actively create their own meaning and knowledge from their own personal and cultural experiences, interactions, and reflections. I believe in fostering an environment where students are not passive recipients but active participants in their own learning journeys. Further, my own diverse background and experiences have provided me with opportunities to reach students in a variety of ways. Working with local, indigenous, and international students encourages me to not only welcome their perspectives, but also provide diverse and equitable learning experiences. By giving students an opportunity to share their pre-existing knowledge and beliefs, it improves their practice on the road to becoming professionals in their field.

Andragogy

In the realm of adult education, I draw inspiration from Malcolm Knowles’ andragogy that emphasizes the unique characteristics of adult learners, emphasizing self-direction, experience, and practicality. As adults seek relevance and applicability in their learning, I incorporate andragogical principles in problem-solving by facilitating discussions, encouraging peer learning and self-reflection while students plan and evaluate their own learning. My class resources come from a variety of places and are in a variety of formats (readings, videos, podcasts, etc.) focusing on real-world scenarios. I lecture, facilitate discussions, and allow my students to lecture and facilitate discussions, while also providing a large variety of hands-on experiences through multiple in-class activities to allow them to take control of their own learning.

Self-Directed Learning

Self-directed learning, championed by theorists like Knowles and Tough, recognizes the autonomy of adult learners. I believe in empowering students to set their learning goals, assess their progress, and take responsibility for their education. This approach promotes intrinsic motivation and lifelong learning habits, aligning with the self-directed learning theory. As a guide who navigates between providing support and giving space, I develop a strong rapport with my students through active listening, humour, support, and actions that improve the learning environment. I am very passionate about education and want my students to become passionate as well. I encourage them to become designers of their own education. My teaching style encourages students to take ownership of their own learning.

Experiential Learning

Experiential learning, rooted in the work of Dewey and Kolb, emphasizes the transformative power of hands-on experiences. I integrate experiential learning by incorporating practical activities, simulations, and case studies into my teaching. This allows students to apply theoretical knowledge in authentic situations, enhancing their understanding and skill development. Through formal and informal feedback, I know that my students highly value the hands-on experiences. My lessons are often interactive and often with digital media resources. I am a hands-on instructor who is available to my students, providing consistent feedback (both oral and written) to push my students to the next level.

Project-Based Learning

Project-based learning, influenced by Dewey and Vygotsky, emphasizes collaborative, project-driven exploration. I structure my courses to include projects that challenge students to solve real-world problems, fostering critical thinking, teamwork, and creativity. For example, my graduate digital media students work with real world clients to develop working prototypes. I provide practical hard and soft skills and understandings that can be used in their own practice not only during their education but also to continue in the professional careers. By providing authentic learning for my students, they are able to develop transferable skills, including communication, problem solving, critical thinking, and collaboration.

To implement these theories effectively, I create a student-centered classroom where collaboration, reflection, and application are integral. I serve as a facilitator, guiding students through their learning journey, providing timely feedback, and creating a supportive community of learners. By embracing constructivism and drawing on diverse learning theories, my goal is to cultivate a dynamic and engaging learning environment that equips students with both knowledge and the skills needed for success in their professional and personal lives.

References

Knowles, M. S. (1984). The adult learner: A neglected species. Gulf Publishing.

Tough, A. (1979). The adult’s learning projects: A fresh approach to theory and practice in adult learning. Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and education. Kappa Delta Pi.

Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Prentice Hall.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Harvard University Press.